With Fourie du Preez’s recent inclusion in the Springbok squad, JP Joubert will reacquaint himself with the No.9 jersey for the Blue Bulls when they take on the Falcons in Friday’s Currie Cup clash.
Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has made some holistic changes to his starting XV, which includes Zane Kirchner who will slot into his favoured fullback position.
Kirchner replaces Tiger Mangweni and Joubert comes in for Fourie du Preez who has been included in Peter de Villiers’ Springbok squad which was announced late Tuesday.
Ludeke said that there is no way that Du Preez will be able to play for the Blue Bulls on the weekend – now having become part of the Springboks’ future plans and management subsequently not wanting to take any risks with the World Cup winning scrumhalf.
“Peter obviously can’t make any promises to players but Fourie [du Preez] will definitely be involved in the upcoming Test matches and we all know what he can do at that level,” Ludeke told the official Blue Bulls website.
Ludeke further confessed it would be very difficult to replaces someone of Mangweni’s calibre, who is being rested for the Brakpan showdown.
“He [Mangweni] has been playing fabulous rugby for us in the first five matches.
“However, Zane is our number one fullback and after playing off the bench in the last three weeks I think the time is right for him to start a match,” he added.
Ludeke included Springbok No.8 Danie Rossouw – who was rested against the Cavaliers – at lock alongside Wilhelm Steenkamp. Within that tight five, Werner Kruger has been selected to start at tighthead prop.
“The rotation policy is very important to keep the props going and for our next match Werner will start and Rayno Gerber will be used in the second half as an impact player.
“Props need to play on a regular basis and that is why they will be rotated quite frequently,” Ludeke added.
Derick Kuün was named at the side of Kruger but there are still a few question marks on his availability after picking up a hamstring niggle.
If Kuün is not able to play, Bandise Maku will start in the No.2 jersey with Springbok Chiliboy Ralepelle on the bench.
Ralepelle played club rugby for Tukkies a week ago – although displaying a hint of rustiness – the young front rower has shown his enthusiasm to start playing at a higher level.
Ralepelle and the other Blue Bulls’ players who missed the match 22 will get an opportunity to get a few minutes game time on Wednesday when a combined Bulls team will play against a select amateur side, set to kick off at Loftus at 18:00 (local time).
Some dismal news from then Bulls camp is that Hilton Lobberts broke his jaw during practice on Monday afternoon and will definitely be sidelined for a few weeks.
Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Marius Delport, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 John Mametsa, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 JP Joubert, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Wikus van Heerden (captain), 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Derick Kuün , 1 Jaco Engels.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Rayno Gerber, 18 Francois van Schouwenburg, 19 Jacques Burger, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Tiger Mangweni.